As has been our tradition since the girls were babies, we’ve added a few new books to our Christmas book basket this year.
We’re huge Little Blue Truck fans here at the House of Hope, so I knew we had to add this one to our collection. I do believe this one is my favorite of all! In addition to being a fun, rhyming story, Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle is also a counting story. Little Blue Truck goes to the Christmas tree farm to pick up Christmas trees for his friends, but the question is how many trees can Little Blue carry? The Christmas trees are all tagged and numbered, and the DLM has to carefully count each tree, reading each tag, every time we read the book. The personalities of each of the animal characters in the story shine through, and the book even contains a bit of subtle humor and clever nods to other stories. (For example, the pigs in the story live in a brick house.) My favorite are the goats who live on a series of elevated platforms and use a pulley system to raise their tree, delivered by Blue, to the upper platform. The last opening has Little Blue delivering his own tree to the home he shares with the Big Green Toad, and lo and behold, this tree actually lights up! I’m usually not a huge fan of books that require batteries, but my little boys are convincing me that sometimes such technological enhancements can be a good thing. Add this excitement to Benny’s exuberant “Beep, Beep, Beep!” at the end of the book, and we have a real winner. Jill McElmurry’s illustrations give this book a timeless feel that makes it a wonderful, new addition to our book basket. Highly Recommended. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski is one of those books I’ve seen around for a long, long time. I even watched the movie years ago and enjoyed it. I picked up a hardback copy up at Goodwill sometime during the past year, and I’m glad I did. It’s a highly sentimental story, but sometimes that’s just the thing at Christmas. If you don’t know the plot, it might best be summed up this way: lonely widowed mother and son befriend a crochety neighbor who has a sad secret of his own, and a miracle of love and healing takes place just in time for Christmas. P.J. Lynch‘s illustrations are lovely and perfectly fitting for the tale. (Candlewick, 1995) We also added the movie to our Christmas collection because how could we not watch the movie after reading the book?
We have also added a couple of books related to the real story of Christmas this year.
The first was a gift for our basket from Nana: The First Christmas Night by Keith Christopher. This is a retelling in rhyme modeled on Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The First Christmas Night begins
‘Twas the very first Christmas
when all through the town
not a creature was stirring–
there was not a sound.
The moon, shining bright
in the heavens so high,
gave the luster of midday
to the Bethlehem sky.
The story unfolds and includes the shepherds and wise men, and concludes with a statement of fact: “Jesus was born on the first Christmas night!” This is a simple book wih lovely illustrations by Christine Kornacki. If you’re looking for a simple, only minimally embellished retelling of the Christmas story, this is a good one. (Ideals Children’s Books, 2013)
The other story, also a Goodwill find, is not so much a retelling as it is commentary and explanation of the real Christmas story. The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier is the story of a little boy named Christopher who wants only “stories about real people and real things that really happened” from his mother at bedtime. She then tells him the Christmas story from Luke 2 and answers his 8 year old questions: why December 25? Were Mary and Joseph royalty? How did Luke learn the story of Jesus’ birth? This is an excellent book to handle the nitty-gritty questions of the Nativity, especially in the midst of so many Christmas fantasy stories. Francisco Ordaz‘s illustrations add visual interest to a very thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Highly Recommended. (Concordia, 1998)
The children will have a copy of Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant to open tomorrow at our Christmas Eve brunch. I purchased this on Alice’s recommendation, and I look forward to sharing it with them.
We’ve also been reading chapter books this Christmas, and I hope to share more about those in the next week or so. Books are a huge part of our Christmas celebration.
Have you read any new or new-to-you Christmas books this year? I’d love to hear about them!